Nigerian court sentences sect leader to death

Kano, Nigeria — A high court in northern Nigeria’s Adamawa state on Tuesday sentenced the leader of an unorthodox and militant Islamic sect on the run for 22 years to death by hanging, state-run Radio Nigeria Kaduna reported.

Musa Ali Suleiman (51) was found guilty of three charges of murder, conspiracy and incitement of public disturbance, the report monitored here said.

The presiding judge Bamari Bansi, who is also the state’s chief judge, ordered that Suleiman be hanged on the first charge of murder and sentenced him to 21 years in prison and 12 strokes of the cane as well fining him 100 000 naira ($770) for incitement.

He also received a six months jail term for criminal conspiracy, the radio reported.

Suleiman led followers of his heretic Maitatsine Islamic sect in bloody intra-religious violence in 1984 in the state capital Yola which led to the deaths of 2 000 people and large-scale destruction of property.

The group believes only in the Qu’ran, rejects all aspects of Islamic theology and is opposed to modernity. They brand other Muslims as infidels who must be converted through violence.

As well as in Yola, there were similar outbreaks of strife in Kano and Maiduguri but the leaders of the sect in these two cities were killed in a military crackdown.

Suleiman managed to escape and was on the run until March 2004 when he was arrested in Abuja before being transfered to Yola.

He rejected the judgement through his lawyer, Innocent Daagba, and declared his intention to appeal the sentence.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday October 11, 2006.
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